October 4, 2020

Janet H.Nash

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictSchool District of City of Saginaw / Saginaw Public Schools
City:Saginaw

How long have you lived in your district?

32 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Individual parents, students, colleagues, community members.

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

As a Saginaw School Board member I want to serve my community in receiving and providing the best possible input for attaining outstanding educational and career preparation and emotional social success for our students, and thus, for our community at large.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Educational justice to me means providing equal access and opportunities to achieve one’s goals and meet a pupil’s needs regardless of economic, racial, religious, gender or identity, handicap or background factors.

In the context of my school district, that means providing the necessary supports to see all students achieve to meet high expectations. The supports may not need be the same at all schools to appropriately serve all school populations; some schools and pupils will have higher or different needs than others that must be addressed. Those needs can vary from options for Special education, access to Career Vocational Technical Training, college-preparation/AP/articulated credit learning, gifted and talented education, visual and performing arts education, social and community project-based learning.

It also means, importantly, that students see themselves as relevant to what they are learning and what they are learning from.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

I think the pandemic will change the physical constraints of general public education significantly. Our faculty and students will utilize new resources and skills gained through virtual learning in their everyday lives for research, communication, publication of learning products, public discourse and promotion. In-person classrooms, when resumed, will expand to include cross-country and cross-global interactions that will broaden perspectives and horizons of students in every kind of community. We will finally have the technology in every pair of hands to make global Issues and a boundless learning environment truly possible.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Board members need to be interactive in their communities, and communities need to be interactive with their School Districts. Of critical importance beyond the Board meetings are functioning advisory groups, PTA’s, student and parent representation at all levels, faculty Involvement and leadership, support from mental health organizations, latch-key programs, business and non-profit partnerships, and governmental unit liaisons. If all stakeholders are not brought to the table, important support for student success is missing and the students suffer.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

Former parents of students I served and community members,

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

1) Stabilizing and growing enrollment and district classroom resources through providing excellence in education, career preparation and parental/community interaction.
2) Setting high expectations and accountability for student learning in every classroom for every student.
3) Creating learning environments where all students feel safe, welcome, relevant, valued seen and heard, and ready to learn.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

1) support for increased funding for public schooling to meet the varied needs of all those we serve
2) support for safe learning environments in the era of a pandemic that protects our most vulnerable students, faculty and families
3) support for curriculum development in MI that addresses equity in historical cultural perspectives and narratives

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

Our district is following the COVID trend data for MI and Saginaw County in deciding on a month-by-month basis what is the appropriate platform for instruction for our students.
Challenges for remote learning will include gaining and maintaining consistent and reliable internet and e-tablet access for pupils and faculty, how to include safeguarded interventions and alternate approaches for those with special needs and the youngest learners, and ways to combat student, faculty and parental burnout.

Once classrooms reopen, of utmost importance will be providing proper safety training to all stakeholders, maintaining appropriate social distancing, guidelines for masking, implementing alternate or varied scheduling, inclusion of other personal protection resources for all involved in face to face environments, and adequate staffing for sanitization and supervision of students and staff to maintain confidence in protective measures being taken.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Top spending priorities in Saginaw Public Schools should focus on the needs of our students: a high quality staff properly prepared to teach what our students need to learn for life success, students equipped with safe, modern school environments and resources to learn, supports for students with varied needs and interests, including special education, gifted/talented education, art, music and health/physical education, and athletics.

What should not be prioritized? Our district has worked with scaled-down resources and has worked to right-size and reorganize our district heavily for the past 15 years. Its final step in consolidating our 2 high schools is now in their strategic plan. I do not believe there is much of anything left except what does need to be a priority, or it would already be gone.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Standardized tests can be valuable tools for measuring growth, focus and investment in time and training of faculty and students. They should not, however, be the main focus of the classroom or learning. They often fail to recognize many important needs of our youth today, and especially social and emotional and creative needs and talents of diverse populations and urban students.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

I would want to investigate our Social Studies and English curriculums to assure there is representation of all students culturally and in the US (at a minimum) societally, and see how and where we include a curricula of environmental science and planetary stewardship K-12. I would like to include an emphasis on community service in K-12 classroom education. I want to be certain that all our students are aware of available Career Technical training programs for them by middle school, and that they understand the general profile of the district educational resources available to them at the Saginaw Career Complex by 9th grade.

I would maintain our focus on early interventions for reading proficiency through educator-parent involvement, finding engagement for students with resources connecting to individual relevance and interest. We need to retain our comprehensive mathematics continuum through Algebra 2/Trig and beyond, and expand applied science through hands-on and project-based learning. The Visual and performing arts and music education need to remain cultural and creative pillars of our student experiences.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

I believe as a district we have tremendous responsibility in addressing the health and fitness of the whole person of those we serve and those we employ. Mental health and physical health resources need to be available to all: equitably, readily, and comprehensively. They need to be available both on and off campus. People who are suffering, hungry, stressed or distracted are not ready to learn or ready to teach.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

Our schools need to look at their disciplinary data closely to examine their performance in equity of application. The district has an intervention system currently in place for those with highest referral rates and suspensions, including options for alternate school settings. I need to learn more about how it operates, but I definitely know parental inclusion is critical to intervention success.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Special education needs to operate as a general classroom inclusion program whenever possible, with occasional pull-outs or assistive sections for intensive help. Each Special Education and 504 student should engage regularly with a case management mentor, an advocate/counselor, and a member of the administrative staff.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

It’s critical to student success!! When any student is singled out, left out or left behind, we fail! When any faculty member feels isolated or disrespected, we fail! EQUITY does not always look the same, but it is always of equal worth. Access to all students for all programs and opportunities of the district needs to be scaffolded by the district, from academics to the arts to athletics.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I worked for the Saginaw Public School district for 32 years before retiring in 2010 to care for my parents. I have remained a volunteer and a community participant to the district in the years since 2010, and I am now available to offer more help to my community in our shared educational future and concern for equality in education.
I began in the district as an aide in Community Education, and ended my career as a school principal. I have worked in nearly every district school educational environment there is, from K-12 through Adult Education and in community partnerships. I believe I can bring a strong skill set, a lifetime of experience and a solid perspective of what can be the most important investments of time and resources to our district.